they had fewer of them? The problem posed here could be stated in the form of two alternative hypotheses:
1. Parents who do limit family size are qualitatively different from those who do not. This difference produces (among other things)—
a. Smaller numbers of children and
b. Healthier, more intelligent children OR
2. Parents who do not limit family size have the same potential as those who do, but-
a. Because they lack knowledge of, or access to, means of limiting family size, they fail to do so, and,
b. Because of excessive family size, their children are subject to more illness, receive less adequate nutrition, and fail to achieve their full potential for physical and intellectual development.
Until better evidence is available, and such evidence is urgently needed, it will be impossible to assert that either of these is correct. In the meantime, however, there is evidence that mothers would like to control their family size. K.A.P. surveys all over the world (80) have shown repeatedly that mothers with three or four children want no more. For lack of access to adequate and effective means of limiting family size, many of these w/7/have more children, and there is no way to know whether the children they already have would have been better cared for if the ones their mothers did not want had not been bom. The evidence, at the very least, suggests that they would have.
For everyone concerned about the welfare of children, everyone who believes that each child born deserves a chance to achieve his own best potential, the message is clear: we must, at the very least, make it possible for parents who do want to control their family size to do so. If effective means are available, there is reason to believe that many will use them—and be better parents as a consequencce.
1. Freedman, Ronald, The Sociology of Human Fertility, A Report and
Bibliography. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1963.
2. Stycos, J. Mayone, "Demography and Family Planning," Teaching Fam-
ily Planning to Medical Students. New York: Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation, 1968. pp. 23-40.
3. Berelson, Bernard, "Beyond Family Planning," Studies in Family
Planning, 38, 1969. pp. 1-16.
4. Hardin, Garrett, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science, 162, 1968.